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Lovelace documentary launched tonight
Dr Funso Aiyejina has been “intimately involved” with the work of Earl Lovelace since they first met in 1978.
In the last 35 years, Aiyejina, a professor in Literatures in English and African and Asian Studies and the dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Education, at UWI, St Augustine, has undertaken nothing short of a labour of love.
He has studied and written extensively on Lovelace, publishing two collections—Earl Lovelace: Growing in the Dark (2003), and A Place in the World: Essays and Tributes in Honour of Earl Lovelace (2008). He ensured that Lovelace’s 70th birthday was celebrated with a week-long conference at the university and has worked assiduously to document almost all of the author’s public appearances.
Explaining the motivation for his work, Nigeria-born Aiyejina said he thinks Lovelace is “one of the most relevant writers to come out of the Caribbean.” While acknowledging that the region has produced many excellent writers, Aiyejina says that the fascinating thing about Lovelace is that he was “breastfed on the culture of his people.”
“He lived here, he matured here, he is intimately involved with all aspects of this society and he has been able to create a literary style out of the various cultural elements in this society.”
Aiyejina explains that he has attempted to focus on this rootedness in many of his projects on Lovelace and the “docu-commentary” Earl Lovelace—A Writer in his Place, Aiyejina’s most recent project, which will be screened tonight, is no different.
Earl Lovelace, born in 1935 in Toco, has written six novels, including The Dragon Can’t Dance and Salt, for which he won the Commonwealth Writers Prize. He has written a number of short stories, plays and musicals and lectured for over a decade at UWI, where he received an honorary doctorate of letters in 2011.
Aiyejina says he hopes the documentary emphasises the importance of Lovelace to T&T, and especially assists students in West Indian literature with understanding themselves, as well as Lovelace as a writer.
A private screening of Earl Lovelace—A Writer in his Place takes tonight from 7 pm at the Daaga Auditorium, University of the West Indies, St Augustine.